ABS 2022
Endocrine and Spatial Correlates of Infanticidal Behavior in Ranitomeya imitator
Amaris R. Lewis, Billie C. Goolsby, Lauren A. O'Connell. Stanford University, Stanford, California, United States

Parental decisions such as care or neglect are environmentally and internally driven in animals, but how environment and physiology interface to produce such critical behaviors remains poorly understood. The Mimic poison frog (Ranitomeya imitator) is biparental and territorial, where tadpoles are altricial and rely on their parents for their survival. To elucidate how distinct environmental cues affect parental behavior, we conducted experiments to clarify the effects of offspring phenotype, offspring location, and territoriality. We found that spatial use, rather than visual or olfactory cues, drives maternal feeding over a period of two weeks. Introducing adults across reproductive states and sex to new tanks with a clutch of unrelated, fertilized eggs led to diverse behavioral outcomes of care, violence, and/or neglect. Finally, violence towards infants correlates with higher levels of testosterone and corticosterone in adults. These findings suggest that changes to spatial use and territorial status may be predictors of parental care in R. imitator and lay a foundation for investigations into the endocrine and neurobiological bases of parental behavior in an amphibian.